tv Navy Secretary Confirmation Hearing CSPAN July 12, 2017 3:57am-5:54am EDT
starting at 2:30 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> c-span, where history unfolds daily. a 1979, c-span was created as public service by america's television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. armed services committee held a confirmation hearing for richard spencer. he is a former marine helicopter pilot and has received support from both democrats and republicans. this is just under two hours.
>> the armed services committee meets today to consider the nomination of richard spencer to be secretary of the navy. i would like to acknowledge the tragedy in mississippi yesterday, 16 service members lost their lives in the crash of a marine corps kc 130 from cherry point, north carolina. it reminds us that these brave men and women put themselves in harms way everyday at home and abroad in training and in combat and service to our nation. we are keeping their families in our hearts and prayers. nation. we are keeping their families in our hearts and prayers. mr. spencer, we think you for training us this morning and we welcome your family and friends with us today as is our tradition at the beginning of your testimony we invite you to introduce those who are joining him.
it is standard for this committee to ask certain questions in order to exercise its legislative and oversight responsibility. it is upon that this committee and other committees are able to receive testimony and briefings and other communications and information. so i'm going to ask you the standard questions we ask every nominee before this committee. you adhered to -- >> yes. >> will you ensure your stuff complies to requests for communications including questions for the record and hearings question marks >> i will. >> will you cooperate in providing witnesses and briefers in response to congressional's request? >> i will. >> will those witnesses be protected from reprisal? >> they will. >> do agree to appear to testify before the committee on request?
>> i do. >> do agree to provide documents, including documents in a timely fashion regarding suchasis and providing documents? >> i do. except you assumed any duties or undertaken any actions which would appear to presume the outcome of the confirmation process? >> i have not. >> thank you. navyext secretary of the will receive this role during a time of immense importance for united states seapower. i note the residents of one of distinguished members and a dear friend of every member of the committee, republican and democrat and perhaps it would be convenient for us to hear from senator warner. you are recognized, senator warner. senator warner: thank you mr.
chairman. senator reid, and members of the others.e and it is very humbling for me to appear here and on behalf of this distinguished nominee. if i ever reflect on this great committee, i just think about the marvelous traditions it has established for the entirety of the senate throughout its long existence. i say to the new members of the committee, i wish you well. i am confident as you pursue you careers in life that will always look back on your membership in this committee as a very special privilege.
because after all, the function of this committee is to provide care to the men and women in the armed forces of the united , together with their families. i know the chairman expects me to be brief and i will be. but i would like to say that on -- mrs.is mr. spencer, spencer, his lovely wife and they will be a magnificent team is my humble judgment. to serve america and the men and women of the armed forces, most marinelarly the navy and corps. mr. spencer has a very interesting and broad career. he is quite adept and knowledgeable on all aspects of finance and not only domestically in our country, but internationally and together and this other achievement
other achievements in his life which are manifold -- you have the papers before you -- i will point out he served on the department of defense and this board for some six years showing his interest in national security for those years and then he was chairman of the marine corps heritage foundation. so, he has kept all of his priorities carefully throughout his life and i would like to say that he achieved something i always wanted to achieve. gotdistinguished chairman the navy wings of gold and he got the marine wings of gold. his whole tour, several years as a pilot of helicopters. he did his wing time i am sure, before he got there.
he loved the marine corps. he loved the military life. he looked forward to that day when he might be able to return and become more active. this is one of the most interesting and wonderful positions in our entire federal government. secretary of the navy. so i would like to say that i am not a stranger to the proceedings you are undertaking. but there is an aspect of this particular confirmation proceeding that i have never encountered before. on his own initiative, he reached out and counseled with 10 secretaries of navy to ask of of theat they thought challenges of today, how best he might be able to fulfill those
challenges, and we have with us , others johnthem lehman, sean o'keefe, john stafford who is acting as secretary. jim webb. don winter. and yours truly. i want to be very careful in my summary, having talked to all of them about this moment where i sort of represent the gang. we do not wish to be presumptuous so we couch our words in the following sentence and that is, we believe this are man and his lovely wife most worthy of being here today and being given the opportunity to appear before you as you perform your constitutional duty
of advising and consent. with that, i conclude my remarks. semper fi my good man, you are on your own. laughter] >> senator warner, you bring unique credentials to this body having served as both secretary of the navy and chairman of this committee. the members on both sides of the aisle take your words with the utmost seriousness and we thank you for your return and your leadership and the many years in spent with me, helping me my responsibility as a member of this many. we thank you. >> i thank you. and for our long personal friendship. i recall when i became undersecretary of the navy pilot
to becoming secretary, how your father, then commanding chief of all forces in the pacific, together with your extraordinary mother, reached out to help me as a very young man. i think about the youngest at that time when i took on these responsibilities in 1969, many years ago. thank you very much. >> thank you, senator warner. >> the next secretary of the -- [no audio] -- the next secretary of the navy will assume this role during a time importance. some of the greatest challenges will be in the maritime domain and it is critical our navy and marine corps are prepared to fight and win decisively. it is a bug responsibility for departments including
maintaining naval forces. as cap from the chief of naval operations and commandant of the marine corps last month, our forces face significant shortfalls and we need to grow modernize. look forward to hearing how you ofld address the challenges the $15 billion shortfall and priorities. plans to serve the marine corps need to deliver on cost, on schedule, and with the promised capability. the sad truth is in recent years with not given our sailors and marines what they need to succeed. as we have asked ever more of them, we have failed in our responsibility to provide them what they need with equipment and resources and this puts their lives in greater danger every day. we can waste no time restoring
the course and modernizing to regain the technological advantage of our forces. it requires strong leadership from the next navy secretary. i look forward to discussing theseand to discuss plans. this committee was grateful for your prior service as well as your willingness to serve again. you have demonstrated your dedication to this nation. i am confidence your decades of largeence leading corporations and businesses has prepared you to take on this role if you are confirmed. the committee honors sacrifice and service of all of our service people. we look forward to hear how you plan to lead the navy during this crucial time. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. let me join you in welcoming mr.
spencer to the committee and thank you for your willingness to serve. let me also thank your family. we also recognize senator warner. you are an example that continues to inspire this committee. we will get there eventually. chairman andn the recognizing and paying tribute to service members of the navy and marine corps. we are sad about the loss of life during the recent incident on the uss fitzgerald. our prayers go out to the crew and families of units
the next secretary's efforts will be critical. as a first priority, the secretary of the navy should focus on improving readiness of existing forces. for example, it seems very shortsighted to me to allow the diving certifications to expire and then have to tie that boat to ap or for more than one year while combatant commanders demands are not met. our environment dictates --.eased needs for while readiness is very important, there are other challenges that face our navy. many of us have expressed concern about the size of our navy and the number of ships rebuild each year. last year, report was released
which recommended a total fleet of 355 ships. as challenging as their might be to increase the number of ships, numbers alone are not enough. this past may, paper was also "the futureitled navy." it said more platforms are necessary but not sufficient. the navy must employ new concepts and technology. it is a goal you will with obstacles.
the challenges faced are exacerbated by the budget control act. left unaddressed, it will limit the navy's ability to confront the global threats to our country. i look forward to hearing your testimony on how we can modernize our fleet. mr. chairman, thank you for calling this hearing. i look forward to working with mr. spencer in the future. >> mr. spencer, welcome. as i mentioned earlier if you would like to introduce members of your family please proceed so we can interrogate them as quickly as possible. [laughter] >> thank you senator. first of all i would like to thank senator warner and secretary mattis for their intinued confidence nominating me. at this time i would like to use my wife polly, daughter april, son peers, and stepson who are with me today.
for ad like to reflect minute. the navy-record team was struck us that with a tragedy. 15 marines, one sailor perished. i would like us all to keep their loved ones and families and families in our prayers as we conduct our business today. chairman, ranking member read, members of this committee. 36 years ago to the month i was driving to the tomato fields surrounding the landing pad and of mice -- my trustee's deed was a vw bus that carried me out of the gates for the last time for marine squadron 161. headed to the us of the coast highway, i can tell you without hesitation the thought of me sitting before this a gust group and being considered as secretary of the navy was not to be found even in the most remote parts of my mind. i was educated in financial
management and it increased in scope as i progressed through my career. the leadership skills developed work strengthened and honed divisions inus public and private sector. i was a student and then practitioner of disruptive technology while being respective and is just you science. science.rial i believe i have the knowledge and skill set to tackle the issues at hand. it is a great honor for me to appear before you seeking confirmation as the 76th secretary of the navy. the owner is magnified by the current state of play in the world today which is nothing less than a perfect storm. we've been out war for the past 16 years with the operational temple of the various conflicts denying us the needed time and resources for modernization. add to that the growing requirements generated by the combatant commanders who are facing continually evolving threats from all corners of the
globe, and you have a navy-marine corps team that has been continually engaged in stretched then. at the same time the impact of the budget control act, which gave birth to sequestration coupled with the inability to have consistent funding with the annual budgets has produced an environment where, as secretary mattis said, we are no longer managing risk, we are gambling. we must commence the heavy lifting to buttress the storm and build readiness into the near torment and increase the navy marine corps capacity in the near future. before i answer your questions addressing my ability to lead the department of the navy, let me briefly provide you with navy matters and my views. first, people our -- our most valuable resource. families,eam, their and their civilian teammates have never failed our nation and never will.
are failingve we them through such actions as the budget control act and continuing resolutions. due to their patriotism they continue to do more with less. i also believe their diligence, tension to duty, and commitment to putting the nation and teammates about themselves of not been reciprocated in all instances. if concerned -- if confirmed, i do not want to stifle their attitude but i also do not want to send the signal we are taking them for rented. it is not the secretary of the navy nor department of defense nor congress who is bearing the brunt of the situation. theer it is our soldiers, citizens in the reserve, and their families who are squarely shouldering the burden. all the while the competition for ourvate companies soldiers and sailors.
we must work together to find ways to make the navy a preferred career. second, u.s. navels appear your dsa cornerstone for the foundation of american security and global security. a navy marine corps team is an integral element to increase the whole ofvailable for a government solution to situations around the globe. we must address the capability and capacity of our fleet and forces. i believe the nuclear triad is one of the most effective threat deterrence. maintain andask to modernize the component of the triad. as the navy steps out to act upon the intent of the president and secretary of defense, it must do so with renewed rigor and effectively apply the resources with enhanced urgency. it must analyze all of its
platforms to extract all additional efficiencies while at the same time it incorporates the advantages provided by both internal research and development and advancements by the private sector. urgency must be the theme as we enhance our readiness and existing capabilities all the while addressing the future buildout of the fleet. i believe the organizational construct needed to deliver the aforementioned goals is flat, lean, and agile. those who face and manage critical situations have the withty to make decisions the full understanding of the responsibility and accountability associated with the outcome. my business career has been well by the credo that accountability starts at the top and permeates route the organization. i've also warned that each member must be empowered to put
forth changes that will enhance operational efficiencies. to adapt in the face of competition, the whole navy team must be engaged. if i am confirmed, i would use a tagline borrowed of the department of homeland security, and i paraphrase, if you see something, suggest something. in closing, let me say that i did not come before you with a preconceived agenda to address the issues facing the navy and the marine corps. i come before you ready to assess the situation and develop the tools needed to enhance its ability to fight and deliver on the responsibilities the office of the secretary of the navy has delineated in title x. if confirmed, i will accomplish effortscoordinating the of the chief of naval operations, the secretary, and the senators and members of congress through leadership that is grounded in transparency and
accountability. thank you, and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you mr. spencer. i was just on a trip with several of my colleagues, senator warren, senator perdue, senator graham, senator whitehouse, and among other places that we spent the fourth of july as i have for many years in kabul and outside of kabul with men and women of the military with a number of events that we do for them with the fourth of july, a town hall meeting with a large number of men and women who are in uniform.
senator graham, as happens once a decade, asked an astute question. he asked, how many in the room were there for more than the first time in afghanistan? majority raised their hands. he said, how many have been here more than twice? majority raised their hands. he said, how many have been here three times? a significant number raised their hands. in other words, to me, it was something that was a graphic demonstration of the incredible burden that our active-duty military has been bearing over the last 15 or 16 years. they are brave, proud, the best navy we have had in a long, long time, but they are not fully equipped, and they are not fully trained, and they are not given the authority and responsibility that they need in order to win this conflict.
the fact is, in afghanistan, we are not winning. we are not winning. no less than our military commander in afghanistan will tell you that is a fact. that has to turn around. we cannot ask these men and women to keep going over there with a strategy that in order to defend an afghan national army garrison, in order to defend itself, it has to have permission from somebody in the white house on the national security council staff. i am exaggerating a bit, but the fact is if you ask any of these
young men and women who have been there and there and there, they will tell you that they can win this fight, but they have to have the equipment and authority to do so. it is not that they are not well led. they are. it is not that they are not capable. they are. but it is a do not lose strategy, which is epitomized by the former president's speech at west point, where he said, we are going to surge and increase the number of troops there, and we will win, and by the way, we are leaving on a certain day. you are mr. baghdadi and you hear that, i think the conclusions you draw are obvious.
we have troops stuck at the pier, two nuclear submarines have been sitting at the pier for a year because of a lack of spare parts. 60% of our f-16s are grounded. it has to do with the budget control act, one of the greatest act of cowardice ever enacted by the congress of the united states. how serious do you think the problem is? what do you think we need to do? >> senator, i believe it is one of the most serious issues we are facing right now for national security. the budget control act has wreaked havoc with our readiness. the impact on the lives of our sailors and marines. i find comfort and excitement on the fact that everyone is leaning in on this issue. there is a lot of heavy lifting that has to be done. there is a lot of cheese moving that has to be done.
we have to address capabilities. we have to streamline the process, and i believe that is the one on the issue. my priorities, they are people, capabilities, and process to address these and provide, and apply the resources we have for the down payment on readiness and move forward into building out the fleet. senator mccain: on the third one, the process, probably the greatest source of frustration to members of this committee on both sides. a few years ago in 2013, i asked a former chief of naval operations who was responsible for the $2 billion cost overrun on the uss gerald r. ford. he said he did not know. i asked a former chief of staff about the f-35 cost overruns. he did not think anybody had been fired. what are you going to do about this now? two years in a row now, we have held people accountable. we have held service chiefs in
the mix and made them responsible. we have taken a number of measures to hold people responsible. but how is it we reached a point where you could have a $2 billion cost overrun on an aircraft carrier? one ship. $2 billion cost overrun, and no one is responsible. mr. spencer: senator, my career has been steeped in accountability. i can tell you right now that the accountability starts right here. the way that we address this is through behavioral management. you reward positive events. you have other tools at your disposal to take care of projects not performing. you make it transparent. i will be coming before you to ask for resources, but i also have to have my decks clean to make sure they are put forward in a fiduciarily prudent manner.
senator mccain: do you know of anyone has been fired because of cost overrun? mr. spencer: not yet, senator. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for your commitment to serve the navy. you reflected in your opening statement the critical nature of the triad and the fact that the navy is the leading edge of that with the columbia comprised program. i assume you feel the same way? mr. spencer: most definitely, senator. rep. reed: in the spirit of conversation, we want to measure that program stays on schedule and on budget or below budget. a remarkable job with the virginia class, keeping them ahead of schedule with each new
boat. we want that same tradition. i know you want that same tradition with columbia. mr. spencer: most definitely, senator. sen. reed: thank you. as i mentioned before, not only do we need more ships, we need more operational concepts and new technologies. i wonder if you have given any thoughts on your discussions with the secretary or the cno about what areas you see that you could collaborate with the cno on. mr. spencer: i have, senator, starting out with the acquisition process itself. i think i laid out in my priorities, we did a study at the business board, 32 plus layers of people needed to sign off on an acquisition process. that did not involve major platforms. we have to allow the people who have the education and intelligence to make acquisitions and face off problems to provide solutions. they have to know and be responsible for the outcome and
be accountable for it. that is one of the biggest steps we will make right off the bat. sen. reed: are there any technologies you think to break the mold and a leap ahead approach? mr. spencer: most definitely, senator. people have asked what you think of the 355 ship navy. i said it is a great goal to have. i cannot tell you what the construct would be sitting here today because unmanned below the water, on the water, and in the air is an area we are just beginning to chip away at. that will provide great yield for us. senator reed: thank you. there is another aspect of this whole technology, to operate more efficiently. one of the major constraints going back to the age of steam is fuel. energy efficiency from an operational standpoint would seem to be a critical aspect. are you going to continue the
efforts? the navy have done some remarkable things in terms of alternate energy fuels, etc. mr. spencer: i believe if confirmed, my responsibilities as the secretary of the navy are to export any and all avenues that provide us longer legs, less of a tether to fuel sources. that goes across the board for technologies also. sen. reed: we have all indicated -- i do not know what the right word is. a discomfort with the budget control act. it has reached the point now where our complaints are important, but do you think it would be helpful if the president made a major address to the country and a major proposal of how to resolve this? i do not recall very much his comments on the bca. mr. spencer: i believe we all have to come together as a country to address this. it is devastating what it is doing to us.
if we look back at when it was created, it created a bluff card to bring everyone together, and all of a sudden, the bluff was called and the bca was put in place. we all have to get behind this, i look forward to doing whatever i can to educate the american voters as to what is going on with the bca and how it is affecting us. senator reed: i concur. the bully pulpit is one major one. i think we need some directions, some guidance. not just exhortation to do better, but to plan to actually get it done. mr. spencer: agreed. agreed.d: working withd to
you and i thank you. mr. spencer: thank you, senator. >> whatever happened to the 1968 beige volkswagen? mr. spencer: i wish i would keep it. it is probably worth more than the car i am driving now. >> one of the things i have been very proud of our uniforms is the fact that for the first time in my years i have spent here in the house and the senate, they are talking about the threat that is so real out there, and you and i talked, and by the way, thank you to the time that you gave. everyone i have talked to has had a visit with you and know where you are coming from. the first time i have seen the uniforms come out and talk about this unprecedented threat we are facing right now and why it is a threat. we had -- we do not have the credibility of someone in uniform. that goes all the way up to the secretary level. i am sure you are going to be talking about that. you will not shy away from the reality, the level of threat that we have, the news reports that north korea successfully tested an icbm capable of
reaching the united states coupled with a nuclear program that poses an imminent threat to the united states. in one of our hearings, we had general stuart go as far as to say it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when. i would hope that you would elaborate as much as some of the rest of them are because we are not going to get the attention. we are talking about sequestration. we are talking about the problems we are having. we remember 1964, 52% of the entire budget was defending america. it has been steadily going down since that time. it will take a resurgence of people at the top letting them know that times are not the way they used to be. right now, we have a mentally
deficient individual running our country that is totally unpredictable. we have had hearing after hearing. that is one thing the top people in the military say that is totally unpredictable. a subcommittee we had in january, admiral moran said the navy has a readiness that would take years to take down. our highest irony is to have complete readiness. anything you want to say about that that has not been set in response to the questions from my predecessors? mr. spencer: senator, shying away from issues at hand is not something i do well. if i am confirmed, i truly believe the whole focus of my work would be the pointy end of the spear. we will stand up and make sure that not only working with you all in this chamber by going out america and letting americans
know what the real issue is. senator inhofe: i would like to ask you a question on shipyards and depots. the navy's recent challenges have been documented. we have 62% of our f-18s unavailable due to maintenance problems. how do we solve this? we are looking into the future and right now i problem that is there today. what is the first thing you are goiing to do? i want to mention the whole idea of maintaining an organic capability -- remember when i was first elected we talked about 50-50, and i thought surely we can do better than that, but we are still 50-50. quite frankly, i think it has worked pretty well. what do you think about the handling of the depots with
our organic ability? mr. spencer: senator, it is an interesting balancing act we have to address when it comes to industrial capability. i can separate aviation and ship building. i will address ship building first, where we have lesser numbers of providers. i do not say we glad hand people at all, but industrial science did the most efficient way to produce is to have a clear line of resources. in this chamber, i believe we can address that.
we have to work outside the chamber to work with some of our providers to ensure that they are providing us the best long-term sustainable relationship we can have to deliver equipment in the most cost-effective, quick manner we can. senator inhofe: lastly, i just say that you do address the 355 ship issue. i am sure you have given some thought to what would be the appropriate personnel for a fleet of 355. looking into the future, i assume you would be starting to address that now while we are addressing the great threat we currently face. mr. spencer: yes, senator. if we take the full gamut of what is available to us to tackle the 355 ship goal, we should be thinking outside the box. we should be thinking possibly bringing things out of the ready reserve. we should be looking at ways to construct better, faster, cheaper. we will be looking at a frigate down the road. all of this capacity increase will require manning. there will be some numbers that have to be adjusted going forward. senator inhofe: sure. i look forward to working with you. mr. spencer: thank you, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome to the committee, mr. spencer.
i think you'll be pleased to know that an amendment was adopted during our recent mark up of the defense bill sponsored by myself and senator cotton affectionately known as the king cotton amendment that calls for the unconditional repeal of the budget control act. i think it would be helpful if you could in your capacity as secretary assuming you are confirmed to work with the administration to impress upon them the importance of this issue and the really critical role in readiness. i commend that to you as a suggestion. you used the term disruptive technology, and later on, you mentioned that there were 32 layers of the acquisition process. how in the world do you incorporate disruptive technology having to go through 32 layers of approval? mr. spencer: it dies fairly
early, probably on layer two, senator. you have to address the behavioral management of how we are going to think and act in our actions. if in fact you provide people the latitude to make decisions and the span of control expands and hierarchy contract, but again, you have to tie this to accountability and responsibility. sen. king: following up on the chairman's questions and his concern about this issue, i would urge you to get together with your colleagues and step back and really look at the acquisition process in a fresh way given the imperative of technological incorporation in a speedy way and think about, how do we get on a war footing when we are making destroyers one every two weeks and airplanes one every 15 minutes as we were during world war ii? how do we get a sense of urgency into this process?
that, to me, i think you will be a great person to lead that given your experience. mr. spencer: senator, my analogy i have been using in talks prior to this meeting is that we are looking at october of 1957 and sputnik has just flown over our head. the technological gap in our are shrinking compared to our one-on-one competitors, and we need to get a sense of urgency, get on the forward foot, and use all resources available to us. this is what makes this job exciting in my eyes. >> one of the lessons of that era, president kennedy to have goals. a different line of question. the you have any idea the
retention rate in the navy? what our loss rate is of these highly trained sailors and marines? mr. spencer: i do not know the exact number, but i know it is of concern. sen. king: it seems to me that might be an area of rich usefulness to investigate because if we can retain someone rather than recruiting and training new people, that would be saving taxpayers dollars and retaining the expertise we need. i commend that you as an area of focus. mr. spencer: another great area of excitement in my eyes, senator. as i stated in my opening statement, the human capital section of our budget is our most expensive and our most valuable. we have to work and extract the best practices from the private sector in areas how we can keep people to make the navy. sen. king: every pilot and mechanically can retain is what we do not have to spend $1 million to train. we talked a little bit about procurement and cost overruns. we have had hearings before this hearing on the f-35, the ford, and other programs. one of the things that comes through is trying to build things before they are fully
designed and before the design is mature and tested. we just approved a 15 ship multi-year for the ddg flight three, which we want, everybody wants. the question is, is that design fully mature? not one has yet been built. i hope that is an area you will look at in your work. representing the state that bills these ships, i want them built as soon as possible, but i also do not want to repeat some of the mistakes we have seen with the ford and f-35. mr. spencer: senator, on behalf of the navy, i would like to think your efforts and everyone's efforts in this building for providing us an increased capacity. if you would allow me the time to get up to speed on the direct issue at hand, i look forward to coming back to you with a granular answer. sen. king: thank you.
thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. chair. thank you mr. spencer for joining us today. i would like to start by just asking you some simple yes or no questions if i may. do you commit to cutting waste spending in making it a priority? mr. spencer: yes. >> do you commit to working with me on military sexual assault and retaliation in the navy and marine corps? mr. spencer: most definitely. >> will you provide me advance notice should changes to the policies be considered? mr. spencer: i will. >> do you promise to have an
unbinding approach to the process? mr. spencer: i do. >> thank you very much. i appreciate the fact that you took some time last month to sit down and visit with me about the needs of the navy in the marine corps. one thing i was very encouraged about is the fact that you said, in order to move the needle, we are going to have to person fire -- to perspire a little bit. i do not want to speak for other members, but i think on this committee we are ready to perspire a little bit and get things moving. and how do we work together to move that needle? mr. spencer: senator, from the time i left the marine corps and entered the private sector, i have reported to either "my bosses," and as i progressed down my career and ran companies, i still reportedly board of trustees or a board of directors or an executive committee. that is the way i have been trained. it works the best. it has been proven to work the best. i look to you as the board of directors. you are my "partners" in this, senior partners, and i look to you for guidance and direction. we will have to work together in
lockstep to tackle the problems we have. we will be asking for a terminus -- tremendous amount of resources. we will be moving a lot of cheese. we will try to streamline an organization, all simultaneously. we may fall off of the bicycle every now and then. i will be completely transparent and tell you when we fall off of the bicycle and hopefully tell you before we do, but i want to manage expectations in an open and transparent manner. i'm sure as you know, our aircrews continue to experience physiological episodes in high-performance aircraft, the f-22, f-18, and now the f-35, and yet we still have not found a fix for that. a few weeks ago, the air force announced it was testing sensors for the f-35 pilots. it monitors there inhale, exhale
gases. this is something i have recommended to the air force and the navy leaders in past hearings. i am very pleased they are finally taking action. if you are confirmed, do you commit to finding solutions to this problem? how would you ensure that these solutions are shared across aircraft and service branches so that we do not repeatedly see the same costly problems undermining our war fighting capabilities? mr. spencer: i will commit to you, senator, it will be a top priority. to address the second part of your question, one of the things that became apparent, is the board is an amazing problem-solving machine. some of the problems that result is they do not actually share the solution among the building. it is fairly siloed.
i believe that working with my fellow service secretaries if confirmed, that is one of our key issues is to start sharing best practices. sen. ernst: very good. finally in my remaining time, we have talked a little bit about the number of ships. i am not so concerned about the number of ships, just to ensure that the platforms are doing what they should be doing, but the types of ships are important as well and making sure we have an optimal navy and a navy that will support our marine corps. we know the marine corps has and -- has been playing a critical role, most often in an infantry type of role. we see them in the desert quite frequently. but amphibious ships seem to be an afterthought. can you explain to me what your direction might be in making sure that amphibious ships are included in the discussion when it comes to the number and type of ships we have? mr. spencer: most definitely, senator. if you look at what the navy
marine corps team is inherently, it is our forward deployed force. to affect that forward deployment in the most effective manner, we have to have the amphibious ships for the marine corps. sen. ernst: thank you for your time. thank you. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, mr. chair. thanks, mr. spencer. i applaud you for your nomination and congratulate you for it. you are very qualified for this position. i look forward to supporting you. my friend john warner's support for you did not dissuade me. i look forward to working together with you. before i ask you a question or two, i want to put on the record a concern i have as secretary of the navy will set a tone, and one of those you have to set is those that come before us is candid in answering questions. a public hearing we held in the last couple of weeks and i asked the admiral a question.
there had been a bloomberg article about the president's budget coming to us with funding for a second lcs. the bloomberg article that came out in the 19th or 20th of june said part of the funding was going to come through a $325 billion reduction of funding for aircraft carrier overhaul. i asked the admiral the question in the hearing. my understanding from the article is part of the funding for the second lcs will be reducing aircraft carrier overhaul by $300 million. is that accurate? if so, give me context why that would be a good idea and what it would mean. his answer is, i will not speculate on what will be in the submission to you, but i will tell you that what you just cited is inaccurate. it would not be a source coming out of aircraft overhaul. are you familiar with the bloomberg piece that he referenced? is that not an accurate article? correct.
that was his testimony to me. i was surprised to get the president's budget submission june 29 and $325 million is being moved from aircraft carrier reactor to support of a second lcs. i think that is exactly the question i asked him. he told me the money was not coming from that and the article was inaccurate. i have yet to get a next -- to get an explanation for why he testified to that. we are all the boys on this committee, big boys and girls. we are used to getting answers, some answers we like and some we do not like, but we depend on getting candid answers. i hope that will be a told you will set as secretary of the navy for all witnesses who would appear before the committee that they would not try to hide the ball or play semantics. mr. spencer: in my eyes, we cannot afford to do that. i will support transparency and accountability. it will be the tone set at the top.
sen. kaine: thank you. that message will be very clear, i am sure. 355 ship navy, i want to ask you about this because we did an amendment. you talked about grappling with what the ship mix is. let me talk about two aspects of what that would mean. 355 is a number. surface, underwater, man, unmanned, there is a lot of work to do to determine if we were to be at 355, what the correct mix would be, correct? mr. spencer: correct. sen. kaine: to the extent we are talking about ships, personnel, erica carriers. it not just about shipbuilding. talk a little bit about so we can think about what this commitment might mean down the road for this committee as authorizers. what are some of the bigger questions in addition to just the number of ships we will have to grapple with together with
you if we tried to reach that goal? mr. spencer: senator, to address the second of my priorities, which is capability, i agree with you. 355 is a good number for people to focus on. do we know exactly what the mix is? i think, since we are talking out a decade, we might not know, and we should not know right now because we have evolving technologies. what i will tell you is whether it is a 355 ship or not, what we want to get our head around is, can we have a capacity number but have a capability that is even greater than that? have the capability of a 355 that might be a 300 ship navy. i am speculating, but that is the concept i would like to work with you all on, where we are going with our capabilities because that is where the punch is. if in fact technologies allow us to have different platforms. some that we may not even know of right now that will develop in five years. we should keep our eyes and ears
open. i look forward to working with all of you in the chamber on those types of issues. sen. kaine: thank you very much. thanks, mr. chair. >> mr. spencer, congratulations on your nomination. thank you for accepting the call of duty of your country once again. i want to associate myself with the remarks of senator king. about the amendment to the national defense authorization act. the budget control act must be repealed. it has not worked. it has not restrained spending and will not in the future. i think we know what will happen if it goes forward. will have a continuing resolution in september. we will have some two-year budget that does not restrain spending in november and an omnibus in december. and the whole thing will be started over again in 2019 and 2020, all for a bill that no one
from senator fischer to my right and senator donnelly to his left voted for. 112th congress was not the constitutional convention and the bca is not the constitution. my question, just to be clear, is can you build a 350 ship navy if the budget control act remains in force? mr. spencer: no. sen. cotton: thank you for that. is the president's budget request sufficient to build the navy? mr. spencer: it would depend upon the timeline. you would be giving the future secretary of the navy as a goal. sen. cotton: thank you. i have to say, mr. spencer, that the welfare of sailors and marines is of utmost concern for me. your predecessor displayed what i think is questionable and strange judgment on matters that mosthim as one of the
unpopular service secretaries in the modern era. just to go to a few of those decisions, he politicized the navy ships. he made strange changes to the navy uniform. he publicly dismissed reports of combat effectiveness of mixed gender units. he dumped the navy's rating titles, some of which have been around for 200 years. he tried to power navy fleets with unproven technologies. he questioned the character of marines that disagreed with his policies. i think it is unfortunate that you inherited this legacy and it will make you some -- it will make it somewhat hard as you start out to restore the credibility of the secretary. to you think making these kind of changes will enhance the navy's ability to deter war and if necessary fight and win a war? mr. spencer: senator, i testified before this committee i believe in 2015 that it was my
belief that the department of defense, specifically individual services, was not to be a petri dish for social experiment. i believe policy should be developed at the dod level and discussed and socialized and deployed and obeyed. we have to work together, including all of our service people to make sure they are given what they need whether that be spiritually, whether that be psychologically, whether that be materialistically to fight forward. sen. cotton: i think everyone would agree that our priority is to deter our nation's adversaries. i want to turn to a particular matter now in the time i have left. last month, the navy revoked the license of a contractor they long used.
the change was sudden to me. after incidents of shootings and terrorist attacks on military installations, i am concerned the navy is fixing something that is not broken. could you please be sure to review the contracting plan for base access and get back to me about why the navy took this action and what its plans for base security are? mr. spencer: if confirmed, i will. sen. cotton: i don't want you to do anything to presume confirmation even though it seems like a pretty good bet so far this morning. thank you again for your willingness to serve our country. mr. spencer: thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. spencer, welcome to the committee today. it is an honor for me as the newest member of the committee to be here and get to meet senator warner, who served with such distinction over the years. it was a pleasure. i want to thank you for your willingness to serve. i want to add my condolences to the families that suffer the
tragic loss of the 15 marines and sailors yesterday. i appreciate your comments on the need to keep a robust industrial base active in order to achieve the 355 ship navy. we have to have consistent workflow through our navy yards. there are those in my state but there are many others around the country who are facing the same situation. let me ask you one question about testimony that admiral lesher gave to the committee two weeks ago, i believe. we must increase our procurement of helicopters like the seahawk to meet the needs of a larger presence. do you share this view? can you commit to the cap many -- to the committee if you are confirmed that he will take a close look at our helicopter structure? i know helicopters are of particular interest to you. mr. spencer: senator, i will commit because we have to look at all resources necessary to fight the wars, yes. sen. strange: thank you very
much. i would like to wish you the best in the time i have as you take on this critical position. assuming your confirmation. i appreciate your previous comments on sequestration budget caps, i share the concern of our chairman and my colleagues on the committee about the disastrous way we go about things. as the newest person in the senate, it is shocking to me. i was not here when the budget act was passed so we will do our job, i hope, to correct that going forward. i want to thank you again for your service. i look forward to working with you once you are confirmed. mr. spencer: thank you, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. spencer, first of all, thank you for your service to our country. i did appreciate the opportunity to sit down and visit with you in our office. i find the opportunity to visit in advance to be very helpful.
i would like to have you share a little bit of information about the state of our depots. in particular, i have heard anecdotally that the effectiveness of the depot level is inconsistent. if confirmed, will you commit to exchanging such best practices with other services? mr. spencer: senator, again, right in the wheelhouse. we have to share best practices. if confirmed, the mantle you will hear coming from the navy is working with other service secretaries to find out where they are extracting the best efficiencies and what we can adapt and if we are doing something with great efficiency, we will share with other services, too. sen. rounds: this is something that is critical because right now, you have responsibilities for the service of the aviation assets. some depots seem to have a better handle on how they are
doing it than others. most certainly, there are different approaches to having this being done. i think it would be beneficial for the different services to establish a best practices approach in those areas in which they have similar responsibilities and opportunities to improve. i appreciate your willingness to move forward in that type of a process. thank you for that. in 2010, as part of the defense advisory board, you proposed the closure of dod commissaries in the united states under the banner of saving taxpayers $1 billion per year. as you know, this measure was never adopted. what was the biggest lesson you learned about your experience with the restructure proposal? mr. spencer: it was an interesting proposal. it was an interesting study and never became a formal proposal
but ended up in the "washington post." what we were working under the it was an interesting study and banner there was something that the commandant quotes as quicker, better, faster. if we could provide a service that was more efficient, why wouldn't we look at it? we had a solution by one of the major logistic companies in the business. it was a fascinating experience for me to find out how the building works and how the society works that is the dod. you have to pace yourself in certain areas, but again, when it comes to if i am confirmed, i will look everywhere in the navy , under every single rock where we can find efficiencies. when i have shared with you that we will have to work lockstep together with the senate armed services committee, there are some big boulders we may have to move. sen. rounds: there is a difference between finding efficiencies and simply reducing benefits.
i want to walk into this a little bit. in light of that 2010 recommendation to restructure the department of defense commissary benefits in the united states, what would be your philosophy regarding personnel benefits should you be confirmed by this committee? mr. spencer: senator, a learning lesson that will give you insight into my thoughts if confirmed as secretary was more our study on the modernization of the military retirement system. when we rolled that program out , our study out, there was quite a bit of feedback. one of the veterans service organizations was nice enough to publish my home email and home phone. i took 127 phone calls. it was fascinating. once you got through anger and frustration and you started talking to people and you came with the following approach, you have a dollar to spend on benefits.
your retirement costs $.60, health care costs $.40, commissary costs $.15, morale and welfare costs seven cents. where do you want to spend your dollar? i believe if we can provide a value association for the benefit received and also understand from our service members what they value, i think we can come to some big conclusions without any erosion in benefit performance. sen. rounds: one last question. you agree that the f-35 and its fifth generation to abilities are needed for the air wing now and in the future? mr. spencer: yes. sen. rounds: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chair. mr. spencer, thank you. i am sure if you had a fitbit on for the past couple of weeks, you put on dozens of miles because i have seen you all over the buildings. i appreciate you being so accessible. i want to follow up on the f-35 question and your responses to the questions for the record.
there was a question asked about directing a reassessment at the department of neighborly -- department of navy's total procurement program for the f-35's. i am not sure what precisely was thought about in terms of a reassessment, but you said review. i think in response to senator rounds's question, you believe it is a very important part of our arsenal. can you talk a little bit about what you think a review or reassessment would actually yield? mr. spencer: i believe when it comes to a critical weapons platform, there ought to be a continual focus on delivery of the actual aircraft or weapon systems or whatever the case may be. when we make a decision to buy a platform that is not autopilot. my response is this is a continually ongoing attention to the actual acquisition and acquisition process itself. >> thank you. i want to go to another response that related to brac. i think you said you thought it
made sense for us to consider another round. can you think anything in particular that it would actually yield? mr. spencer: senator, from my knowledge gathering over the past couple of months, i believe the navy is in fairly good shape when it comes to utilization of assets to the point if in fact we go to a 355 ship navy, you cannot give away waterfront property. it is very expensive to get back. in the same token, i believe that we should continually review the value of our assets and return on investments and infrastructure just as a case of being. sen. tillis: thank you. my final question, you mentioned in response to some of senator ernst's questions that you view us as a kind of board of directors. i like that analogy. i have used it myself here, but we know that senior managers
meetings,arly in four meetings, the best ones that will come in and be very direct and forthright with respect to board policies or actions that are making your job more difficult. i want to tie that into the perspiring line of questioning, too. when confirmed or if confirmed, i intend to support your nomination. what things do you think you have to say we have to change as a matter of policy, consistency? we all know that sequestration has to go away. what more do you need to put up? where are you likely to put us out of our comfort zone? you were spared because i forgot to bring the 680 page rfp i bring defining the next generation handgun. my guess is as we go through that, some of those 200 pages
are because we told you all to do things a certain way. how are you going to help us actually streamline, free up those resources for the right purposes? mr. spencer: senator, when i originally said we will work together, that is a fine example. let's take acquisition. if in fact we have a large platform weapons program, one of the things that i might propose is we have the program executive and the program manager stay in place for the first generation of production. sen. tillis: and have their job depend on it? mr. spencer: and have your job depend on it, but that flies in the face of up an out. we will have to adjust how we promote people and if we will expect this out of them. yes, coming to you with various situations you can help us with to clear maneuvering lanes would be greatly appreciated.
sen. tillis: i look forward after your confirmation to you coming here and coming up with a long list of things we need to do differently so your job can be easier to achieve. mr. spencer: thank you, senator. i look forward to it if confirmed. sen. tillis: thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to our witness for being here. before i begin, i want to join my colleagues in offering the deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the servicemembers who died in yesterday's crash of the transport and refueling aircraft. our thoughts are with them and the entire navy and marine corps family. now, mr. spencer, in recent years, there have been a number of reports of workplace safety violations at the private shipyards that the navy relies on to build its fleet. in fact, according to several labor statistics, shipyard labor face an illness and injury rate that is higher than the general construction industry. the list of reported injuries in violations that these workers are exposed to is bone chilling. amputation, electrocution,
suffocation, falls, explosions, chemical burns, cancer-causing fumes. the navy is spending hundreds of billions of dollars at shipyards where workers are routinely injured and maimed because of lax safety standards, but a navy spokesman responded to those concerns by saying, and i will quote the spokesman, "we are not the overlords of private shipyards when it comes to workplace safety." do you agree with this attitude? mr. spencer: no. i can't. i truly believe as we go forward in today's environment, and wew" do you agree with this attitude? are talking about in the case of shipbuilding, amping up the production, we have to have a sustainable environment. that does not support a sustainable environment. i would hope it would be a whole of government solution. i think osha is probably involved. we look forward to making sure
we are good stewards of resources. sen. warren: good. do i hear you saying that if confirmed, you will commit to look into how the navy tracks and monitors workplace safety violations at the shipyards that it is doing business with? mr. spencer: yes, senator. sen. warren: good. where talking about growing the fleet to a 355 ship navy, which would result in considerably more volume at these shipyards, and i think the least we can do is make sure the american workers who are employed in those shipyards and are building those ships are afforded reasonable protections going forward. mr. spencer: i agree. sen. warren: the navy operates on the frontline posed by -- frontlines of the threats posed by climate change, including rising sea levels and floods, more intense storms, higher temperatures. the navy has long recognized the risks posed by climate change. -- frontlines of the back in 2010, the navy released
a climate change roadmap, which observed "climate change is a national security challenge with strategic implications to the navy. it is affecting and will continue to affect u.s. military installations and access to natural resources worldwide. it will affect the type, scope, and rotation of future navy missions." mr. spencer, do you believe the climate is changing and that climate change will continue to affect the navy's installations and missions? mr. spencer: senator, the navy, from my briefings to date, is totally aware of rising water issues, storm issues, etc. we must protect our infrastructure. i will work hard to make sure that we are keeping an eye on that because without the infrastructure, we lose readiness. sen. warren: so i think that as a yes? mr. spencer: yes, all about readiness. sen. warren: good. if confirmed, under your
leadership, will the navy prepare for climate change? i think that is where you are going with readiness. both in terms of preparing our own bases and installations and preparing for the crises and insecurity that climate change will exacerbate around the world? mr. spencer: yes, senator. sen. warren: good. in a speech in front of sailors and marines, former labor secretary maybus warned that if we don't act on climate change, instability around the globe will inevitably intensify and even our bases will risk being lost. i think he is right. i will be counting on you, mr. spencer, to carry on where the secretary left off and make sure we adopted the threat and we are ready. mr. spencer: thank you, senator. sen. warren: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. spencer, congratulations to you and your family. appreciate your desire to serve your country again. i wanted to get back to the
issue that i think was lost by the last secretary of the navy. i want to associate my concerns that senator cotton raised about your predecessor, who took his eye off the ball on many things, readiness, but particularly training. to that list that senator cotton mentioned, the previous secretary of the navy gave an order to integrate boot camp in two weeks. he said, have this done in two weeks. the most ridiculous order i have seen as a member of this committee by anyone in the military. so i want to get a sense of your view on training, on hard, rigorous training. there has been a lot of focus on korea in the last several months. the members of this committee, myself included, have a lot of concerns. have you read the book "this kind of war?" mr. spencer: i have not.
sen. sullivan: i think that is something i have extra copy of that i would like you to take a look at. it is about the korean war and our lack of training and lack of readiness and what it did to the men and women in the marines and army that had to go fight. a really dire situation. as described in the book, thousands of americans were killed in the summer of 1950 because they were not trained, hard, ready to fight. can you give me a sense of your philosophy on training sailors and marines? unfortunately in the last month, we have had accidents at sea. a lot of talk and concern about what happened with the refueling tanker just yesterday. what is your view on how we should be training our marines and sailors? mr. spencer: senator, it is my point of view, and if confirmed, the tone will be set from the
secretary's office that we are all here for one purpose, and that is the pointy end of the spear. all urgency, all focus whether a dental hygienist, whether motor pool, whether pilot, we are here to attain the goal. we have to train. it is mandatory. the bca has really good into -- cut into training, and we are seeing the impact of that unfortunately. we need to turn that around and corrected -- correct it immediately. sen. sullivan: i looking forward to your confirmation. you will see that even this committee puts forward issues and areas of focus that do not relate to training. if you see that happens to much, -- too much, count me as one of the supporters to get back to what you are talking about, which is serious hard training so our men and women can come home if and when they have to go to war.
you and i had a good discussion about an issue that has taken up a lot of time in the committee with regard to arctic strategy and whether it is a new strategy that the secretary of defense put forward or or the admiral recently put out a book on sea power and had a whole section on arctic strategy. are you familiar with the new dod's arctic strategy? mr. spencer: i have read it, sir. sen. sullivan: part of that strategy talks about certain operations. and yet last month, admiral richardson said that it is absolutely true. we do not have the capacity or capability to conduct any ops in the arctic. we have a strategy that says we need to do something and the ceo cno of the navy saying we do not have the means to do it. there are two areas of elective get your commitment to work with this committee on if confirmed.
first, as we look at a 355 ship navy, in order to ensure we can have the capability to conduct ops in the arctic, can you take a hard look at the issue of ice hardening our ships, which at a seapower subcommittee two weeks ago, the navy indicated they are not looking at the issue at all? mr. spencer: senator, when it comes to one of my priorities if confirmed, you heard me talk about capabilities, and that would fall squarely underneath that. >> and two weeks ago again, this committee in the ndaa put forward language that authorizes the procurement of up to six icebreakers. right now, the united states has two. one is broken. if you actually go out to seattle, where they are based, these are coast guard icebreakers, i would recommend you do it. it's kind of a sad affair. we have men and women in the coast guard wearing the uniform
the united states deploying on ships that were commissioned over 40 years ago and are barely seaworthy. so there's been a bit of a back and forth and you and i have discussed this between who's responsible for that. the coast guard or the navy. can i get you to take a good look at the cooperation of the coast guard and navy in order to enable our country to procure , the navy says it is in the national interest of the united states have more than one icebreaker, the russians have 40. they're building 13 more. can i get your commitment to work with the coast guard on that important task? mr. spencer: most definitely, senator. if i'm not mistaken, you all have provided some money for the navy to provide support for the coast guard and the exploration of the next generation of icebreaker and that's totally supported in my mind.
senator sullivan: great. thank you. been in and, i have out. it seems you are doing well. i intend to join a unanimous committee in supporting your confirmation. let me say two things. please know as the future secretary of the navy that this committee is serious about helping you and president trump get to the 355 ship fleet. we've had over times since i was in the house of representatives, goals that we never quite got to. it was 308, it was 313. here we are at 276 ships in our fleet. billve language in the dod and our house counterparts have language in the ndaa over there indicated to show you we're serious. frankly, we think we got you the
money this first year to get us on the path to 355 ships. so please know that we're serious about this. we want to be your teammates there. let me ask you my one question about the physiological episodes that are occurring to our pilots , particularly our training pilots in the t-45. that's the three undergraduate pilot training bases. i've learned more in the last four or five months about hypoxia than probably is wise for someone of my educational attainment. i've learned that there are many types of hypoxia, but the real problem with the training planes and our three pilot training histotoxics the hypoxia and try as we might with
with -- as we mind with our minds, we have not gotten a correct diagnosis. and the best i've heard is maybe maybe that's together halfway a solution here with a bit of a solution there and get us back to flying at the correct altitudes that we need to train these men and women to do the hard work that is expected of them. you have already testified in answer to senator ernst question , that these will remain a top priority. thank you for that. we put a little something in the bill that i want to draw your attention to. i hope it stays in the bill and is signed by the president. and it basically says while we are putting the best minds of the government at work, the navy and dod can, if they want to, not forced to, can't they want
to, implement a prize competition. you come from the private sector. all we're doing is saying after the best minds that we have in the federal government have tried and so far haven't found the exact diagnosis of what the --blem is that calls this causes this hypoxia, we could offer a prize to anyone in the country, anyone on the face of the globe, for that matter. and you don't pay the money unless you get a solution. so what -- so i would just urge you to -- i would urge my colleague to let's keep that in the bill and treat it seriously. and i would urge you after you are confirmed and if we don't get to a solution, which i certainly hope we get to, but if we don't, take this provision seriously. and let's unleash the brainpower of the entire country and the entire globe to try to get to
the solution. so, whatever thoughts you might have on that statement and one minute, i would be happy to hear. mr. spencer: senator, very exciting, chapter one of thinking outside of the box. that's fantastic to hear. and it excites me that those tools and authority would be available to us. sender worker -- senator wicker: thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. congratulations. it is a real honor and i appreciate you being willing to serve. i keep hearing from junior officers in particular the security clearance backlog. could you please look at this issue? a lot of jobs are being unfilled and people are not able to do their job without security clearance. if you need more help from the committee, more money or resources, let us know. mr. spencer: having been a product of going through that, i know exactly what they're going
through. senator graham: yeah. i don't know what's going on out there. it's the policy of the trump administration to deny north korea the capability to hit the tippedd with a nuclear icbm. do you agree with that policy? mr. spencer: yes. senator graham: and one of the challenges for the navy is how would they avoid that if it ever came about? do you agree with that? mr. spencer: yes. senator graham: all right. so when you look at four structure and the number of ships, it's got to be based on threats. when you look at the world from a navy point of view, how would you say the world is in terms of a threat for the navy? is there need for more ships? mr. spencer: definitely, senator. the matrix of threats we're facing now from the four plus one or however you want to define it is one of the more complex that the country's ever faced. we need the capability. we need the capacity.
senator graham: would you say this is one of the more challenging times for the united states navy since world war ii? mr. spencer: yes. senator graham: would bit a bad idea for the congress to cut the navy's mr. spencer: a really bad idea. senator graham: sequestration is an idea that needs to be set aside? mr. spencer: yes, senator. senator graham: ok. in terms of how the military services work, about 50% of all cost or personnel cost, downes that? mr. spencer: yes, senator. senator graham: we have done on this committee some pretty creative things that the lower personnels go -- but we want to be generous to those two serve our country, one of the fair and generous those who retire. but we got to look at everything including personnel cost to have a sustainable budget. do you agree with that? mr. spencer: totally. senator graham: tricare. it is a part of the department defense budget that's growing exponentially. it is health care for the military service members and
their family and everybody gets that. but on the retiree part, we haven't really had a premium adjustment of any significance since 1995. are you willing to work with this committee to make tri-care more substantial? mr. spencer: yes. mr. -- senator graham: how do you view that? mr. spencer: that's one of the biggest goal. the personnel factor is growing at an unsustainable rate. where the discretionary budget is being eaten up by personnel cost. we owe our uniform members and our retiries the best that we can offer. better to offer people services. a navy seal is part of an elite group. we have people in the cyber arena. do you agree that cyber threats in the military is growing, not lessening? mr. spencer: exponentially. senator graham: how do we keep the navy seal on track for a 20 or 30 year career went they can leave the
navy and make four times what they make as a navy as a contractor? how do we attract the best minds in the cyber arena? they could go to silicon valley. how do we do that? and you don't have to give me a complete answer but i would like for you to think about that because the competition for these really high skilled war fighters is immense. any thoughts on the? mr. spencer: senator, again, my priority is being people capacity and process. people are number one. and we are going to have to take every single best practice we can find from within the government, from the private sector, to address the situation you just mentioned. whether it be a seal, whether it be our cyber experts. we're going to have a find a flexible way for people in the cyber field to leave and come back. i believe they have to be refreshed in their own community. i look forward to working with you all to think outside the box on how we can do this. senator graham: and finally, sexual harassment and abuse of service members.
this committee spent a lot of time and attention of trying to change the law and the culture. what is your view of that situation and where do want to take the navy when it comes to sexual harassment and sexual assault? mr. spencer: one is too many. but let's know that the job of the navy marine corps team is to inflict pain to the enemy. unsustainable pain to the enemy. when i see that we're inflicting pain upon ourselves, it is an anethma to me and it must be stopped. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. spencer, thank you for being here. thank you for your willingness to serve. let me say at the outset that all of us are grieving and ane lifting up in our prayers the 15 marines and sailor who were killed last night in the c-130 crash in mississippi. and we certainly want the men and women of the navy and the
marines to know that we're standing with them as they're grieving those losses. i want to ask you about morale in the navy. that's been a concern raised. what is your sense of the current state of morale and what needs to be done time prove -- done to improve that? mr. spencer: senator, the navy marine corps team is biased for action. no is a tough word to pull out of the vocabulary. in my opening comment, i talked about how they have been continuously engaged and stretched thin. they will never let us down. that being said, we need to pay attention their needs, whether it be changing the p.c.s. move to notification time out to where it was at six months versus one month to more sweeping needs in benefits and compensation to
deliver a better product. job, morale is the barometer. as of yesterday, the navy reported it had 2726 deployed battle war ships with over a third, 103 underway for deployment or training. do you believe we currently have sufficient capacity to meet the strategic requirements we've played on the navy? mr. spencer: there might be two answers to that, senator. let me say that with the assets that we have right now, we are managing the best in my overview that we can. it comes down to risk management. are we addressing every risk? no, we're prioritizing them with more asset, more capability, we
could be a better job. senator cruz: what is the current dwell ratio on the navy and how does that need to be improved given ship growth is a years long initiative? mr. spencer: if we could -- again, i go back to productivity. if we could have a clear site to funding and resources, i believe we'll have a much more efficient flow through on maintenance, whether it be aviation or whether it be sea craft. this will fit into adjusting the dwell time back to a normalized rate. and i think that's where we very -- and i think that is where we really have to focus because that goes back to your original question of morale. we have to adjust both. senator cruz: how do you plan to rapidly rebuild the fleet? taking into consideration the
's recent analysis that it would take into in the year 2035 to reach a 355 ship navy even with accelerated ship building? mr. spencer: first, i look cno.ard to working with the that being said, we have to start thinking outside of the box, whether we look to the ready reserve, what's sitting on the water that's been quote-unquote mothball, whether that is frigate transition. senator cruz: talk a minute about the ohio replacement submarine program and the columbia class would be the countries second costliest program in history and part of a trillion dollar program to modernize the nuclear triad over the next 30 years and the submersible leg of
of -- of the triad is responsible for roughly 70% of the nation's forward deployed nuclear warhead and remains a vital part of our national security. a little over a month ago, it was reported the program suffered its first known glitch in the overheating of a prototype motor. where do you think we are in upgrading the ohio class submarine and what needs to be done? mr. spencer: i've not received any classified briefs on the performance glitch you're talking about. on a fundamental basis as i said in the opening statement, that i leg of the undersea nuclear triad is the most survivable and probably one of the -- put it this way, we must address the replacement situation. it is a huge cost. a huge expense. i realize that.
we're going to have work in a whole of industry, whole of government solution to address this. senator cruz: thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you, mr. spencer for your willingness to take on this new role. the navy instituted something called the accelerated promotion to allow shipyards to compete with the private sector and as i'm sure you're aware one of the challenges is that our andled workers are aging replacing them in the work environment is challenging. so at the gs-5 or gs-7 levels will eligible for a one-time accelerated promotion to the next higher grade after they complete a training program. do you think that kind of program is helpful and retaining the workforce we need, and d
have any other ideas of how we can get the workers we need to keep our shipyards up to date? mr. spencer: senator, i'm not aware specifically of the program. i look forward to finding out more about it and sitting down and having a conversation with you about it. i do have firm beliefs on how we are going to have to work as a team, both the industrial complex and the department of the navy to go forward and fulfill our goal to put capacity on the water. whether that is what we used to call vocational schools, training schools out in the communities. i've been informed that for a welder, it takes seven years to become a journeyman. that's an extraordinary amount of time but that's an extraordinarily important position. we have to start filling the pipeline and finding any vehicle we can that is beneficial to supply the process. senator shaheen: well thank you. i'm sure that senator king would
join me in inviting you to come to the ports and cd -- and see the a.p.p. program and to hear more about the challenges that they're facing. i hope you will be willing to do that. mr. spencer: i look forward to doing that if confirmed. >> it's a great experience. senator shaheen: this committee has spent a lot of time on the challenges that russia presents to eastern europe and to our allies in europe. and obviously, one of the places where we have seen them the the -- seen them be the most aggressive is in the black sea where they have with increasing frequency, buzzed our ships and our planes. can you talk about what you would do as secretary of the navy to respond to that? mr. spencer: senator, russia is a threat in many ways to the country.
we must, and i think every single naval officer and also weapons person they must protect , themselves from lethal force but they must weigh in restraint. we have to stand strong. we have to have avenues of communication open with our adversaries when it comes to professional actions on the sea. one would hope that in the military sector, there is professionalism that spreads to even our adversaries that we can have communications in that regard. senator shaheen: do you think that those communications have so far been successful? do we need to establish more channels? mr. spencer: i have not been briefed in depth on it. but i would think we would need more channels. senator shaheen: ok, thank you. i was surprised to hear in
testimony before this committee that china is looking at a 340-ship navy by 2020 given the challenges we are facing as we look at our long-term needs in the navy. are you concerned as if you become secretary of the navy about what that means for china's ability to more control over the south china sea and other sea ways where we might come in conflict? mr. spencer: most definitely, senator. the goal that one of the presentations that i sat through was 2045 was a goal of china to have many things in place. their ship count in 2020 to be larger than they are now. it all concerns me tremendously. and i think we have to respond in kind, to have the capability and capacity to ensure that we are positioned to enforce the free shipping lanes for not only ourselves and our interests, but
for those of our allies. senator shaheen: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, mr. spencer, for your dedication to our country. i was greatfied that you mentioned the tragedy last night. our thoughts and prayers with those families. on june 17, maybe experienced another -- the navy experienced another tragedy as the u.s. fitzgerald was hit by a ship under circumstances that we don't know completely. i understand there is an investigation underway. one of the sailors, third class technician tom wynn from connecticut was among the deceased and i attended the memorial service for him just last week. and his family is still grieving
as are the other families who lost loved ones during that incident. the commander of the united states seventh fleet appointed rear admiral to lead a prime advocate investigation of the mishap. i would like to know, if you are confirmed, will you commit to ensuring a prompt and thorough investigation of the u.s.s. fitzgerald collision with the cargo ship a.c.x. crystal? and will you commit to reporting the findings fully to this committee? mr. spencer: prompt, thorough and transparent with expedition. senator blumenthal: thank you. there's been talk about the construction of submarines, the columbia class and virginia attack class, which is required to go from 48 to 66.
and the challenge as the senator mentioned is not just with the flow of materials but also the industrial base. and not only at newport news but the supply chain at the defense industrial base. and i wonder if you've thought about what can be done to provide the kinds of training and skill development resources for the suppliers and contractors and all the medium and small businesses that are involved in that defense industrial base. mr. spencer: senator, i'm glad the supply chain has been brought up because we definitely have a limited supply of hands and backs to build things. but people many times don't focus on the actual chain itself. there are many cases out there in the private sector that we can take best practices from.
off the top of my head, we did a study at the defense business ibm was looking at running out of cash. they restructured the supply chain. it is now a $16 billion competitive advantage. he brought everyone into the tent. having to do a whole team effort in this regard. senator blumenthal: finally, let -53k.k you about the ca it is the replacement for the marine corps's only heavy lift helicopter. it will play an integral role in the united states marine corps for probably decades to come. improving the ch-53e super stallion. will you commit to supporting
this critical program assuming you are confirmed? mr. spencer: most definitely, senator. senator blumenthal: and let me also ask you about the f-35 the navy has. the variant. what's your view of the f-35? mr. spencer: again, i've not received any classified briefs, but just in my knowledge gathering over the past months , the marine corps is quite excited about what the f-35 can deliver as a platform. the navy has its plans to adopt the fifth or fourth generation structure within their aviation wing also and i look forward to finding out more if confirmed. senator blumenthal: will you commit to support the plans now for acquisition? mr. spencer: i do. it does not seem like there's going to be a major change, but yes. senator blumenthal: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> we thank you for your appearance here.
i take it you have completed all of the paperwork. is that correct? mr. spencer: that is correct, senator. senator mccain: well, it'll be my intention to move your nomination at the next gathering of the senate armed services committee and we look forward to confirming you clearly before we reach our well-deserved rest. keep moving your nomination quickly to the floor of the senate and hopefully we can get it done to get you to work. sen. reid: thank you, mr. spencer. we look forward to interrogating you again soon. mr. spencer: thank you.
>> c-span's washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up, todd harrison will look at the debate in congress over creation of a space core, a six military branch devoted to outer space. carolina republican mark walker will talk about the future of health care and new jersey congressman bill pascrell
will discuss democratic strategy in 2018 and potential leaders to move the party forward and be sure to watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 eastern this morning. join the discussion. >> coming up this morning a , confirmation hearing for christopher wray, president trump's nominee to be the next fbi director. he will replace james comey who was fired earlier this year. he is expected to be questioned about russian interference in the 2016 election and his previous experience at the justice department. live coverage of the senate judiciary committee hearing starting at eastern on c-span3 9:30 and you can follow it live on c-span.org and with the c-span radio app. later today a hearing on visa , overstays. the need for accountability and national security. live with the senate judiciary subcommittee starting at 2:30 p.m. eastern on c-span3.
the house intelligence committee ranking member adam schiff called a meeting between donald trump, jr. and other officials with a russian lawyer, a disturbing development that should be looked into carefully. his comments came during a news conference with reporters on the house investigation into russia and the 2016 elections. this is about 15 minutes. mr. schiff: good afternoon, i mr. schiff: good afternoon, i wanted to make comments about the emails at a been released today. in the summer of last year, the russians were in possession of information they believed would be damaging to secretary clinton and helpful to the trump campaign. some of this information they stole from the computers at e